For fans of the Stephenville Yellow Jackets basketball team there is good news and there is bad news.
The bad news first.
Eleven of 13 players from last season’s playoff team graduated.
The good news?
Four from last season’s talented junior varsity squad are stepping into the void.
The two returnees are Tyler Griffin, who is averaging in double figures in the early going of the season, and Kaegun Williams, who has been otherwise engaged as a running back on the ‘Jackets’ football team.
“They’ve got a lot of game experience,” said Coach Jonathan Normand of his pair of varsity veterans, “especially in the playoffs, so they know what it takes so I’ll count on them to lead us.
“I’ve got seven or eight names will probably be varsity players,” said Normand, “then another one or two, and I hope the younger kids will step up to take the other spots.”
Moving up from the junior varsity are two players still playing football, receivers Darian Brown and Josh Nowell and a senior expected to get extensive playing time, Sutton Fambro.
“The JV team lost maybe five games last year and that’s where most of the rest of these guys are coming from,” Normand said.
In addition, the varsity roster is expected to include football player Zoey Kendall, who moved in from Dublin this year, and Justice Bethea, a senior who has not played high school basketball before.
“Zoey’s a move-in kid,” the coach said, “He's had some varsity experience at Dublin, so he’ll be a good hand. Justice Bethea is a senior who hasn’t played in high school but he talked to me last year and he played with us in the summer. He came up to the gym throughout the summer. He’s a big, strong body, so we hope to use him somewhere.”
Normand said he’s counting on some younger kids to step up and fill the remaining roster spots.
The Yellow Jackets have played two scrimmages and two games thus far, Their official record is 0-2, but Normand said things are going well while he treads water and waits for the football season to end so he gets the rest of his team.
‘It’s going okay,” he said. “It’s about what I expected."
Stephenville is part of District 6-4A which includes a pair of top 20 teams, according to the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll. Abilene Wylie opens the season at No.11 and Mineral Wells at No. 20. Also in the district are Brownwood and Graham.
“The district is going to be tough,” Normand predicted. “Wylie’s good - they’re always good. Mineral Wells is top 25 in the state as well, they’ve got some good returners from last year.
“We’ve got a lot of question marks, and Graham and Brownwood are going to be tough battles, also. The district, in my opinion, is going to be very competitive.”
The Yellow Jackets return to action Tuesday, Dec. 2, hosting Whitney. They are scheduled to participate in the Dec. 4-6 Lake Worth Tournament and the Glen Rose Tournament Dec. 11-13.
District action starts Jan. 16 as the ‘Jackets host Mineral Wells.